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RISE OF THE SAFAVI DYNASTY       243
rapidity and met the Uzbeg army in the neighbourhood
of Merv, where, by means of a successful ambush, 17,000
Persians utterly defeated 28,000 Uzbegs. Shaybani Khan
fled to an enclosure by the River Murghab, and upon
the capture of his place of refuge he was killed while
attempting to jump his horse over the wall. His head
was cut off and taken before the victor, by whose orders
it was mounted in gold and set with jewels to serve as
a goblet. After this victory Balkh and Herat were
occupied, and Shah Ismail returned in triumph to Persia,
leaving a large force to conduct further operations against
the Uzbegs.
Shah Ismail and Saber.—Among the captives at Merv
was a sister of Baber, who was treated with honour by
the victor and restored to her brother. This act of
courtesy was the beginning of an alliance, and Baber,
taking advantage of the death of Shaybani Khan, invaded
Transoxiana and defeated the Uzbegs, whom he pursued
as far as the Iron Gates. Reinforced by a Persian army,
he followed up this success, and, sweeping aside all
opposition, once again entered Samarcand, amid demon-
strations of enthusiasm. But he was not destined to
occupy the throne of Tamerlane; for his acceptance of
Persian suzerainty, combined with hatred for the Persian
Shias in Central Asia, soon cooled the affections of the
people. Meanwhile the Uzbegs, recovering from their
panic, rallied round Obayd-UUa, the successor of Shaybani
Khan. Baber, with a force 40,000 strong, attacked the
Uzbeg chief, who had no more than 3000 men under his
command; but the smaller force, fighting with the courage
of despair, gained the day. After this disaster, the date
of which was A.H. 918 (1512), Baber retired to Hissar, to
the south-east of Samarcand.
The Final "Defeat of Baber by the Uzbegs, A.H. 918
(1512).—Once again, reinforced by a large Persian army,
Baber marched on Samarcand, but at Ghajdavan, to the
north of Bokhara, he was beaten in a fiercely contested
battle. Accepting this defeat as final, he passed off
the stage of Central Asia. To show how unpopular his
alliance with the Shia Persians had been, I quote from